Although many aspects of the female orgasm have been a mystery for hundreds, if not thousands of years, there have been a lot of references to it throughout history and literature. Greek and Latin literature has its fair share of sexual innuendos and blatant references. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in Book III, talks about women having orgasms. Female orgasm and sex continues through the Homoeroticism and Romanticism ages. Percy Bysshe Shelley used the metaphor “no life can equal such a death” for an orgasm. He wrote the poem titled “The Boat on the Serchio”, which is still considered by many to be the “grandest portrayal of orgasm in literature”, as stated in John Lauritsen’s book “Hellenism and Homoeroticism in Shelley and his Circle.” Even William Shakespeare talks about orgasm in his works.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the shift of references to the female orgasm begins to appear in more scientific circles. Sigmund Freud talks about it in his book, “The Ego and the Id.” But it also rears its head in literature every once in a while. In 1928, D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” includes very detailed narratives on a couple’s sexual acts. As the decades progress, more scientific study’s appear to provide a clinical look at the female orgasm. Finally there is some headway made as to what this phenomenon is all about.
In the 1960s, Masters and Johnson were among the first to investigate the sexual response cycle and the female orgasm. They stated that the cycle begins as a woman becomes aroused and blood rushes to the genitals. Once the woman is fully aroused there is a plateau that is the stepping stone to orgasm. And then there is a resolution period where the blood vacates the genitals. Helen Singer Kaplan contributed the feeling of desire to this cycle, stating that it comes before sexual excitement, in the 1970s.
Later into the 1980s, Rosemary Basson suggested a new cycle that was cyclical instead of the older linear progression of the sexual response cycle. Ms. Basson’s model states that desire comes first and fuels arousal and orgasm, while the rest of the sexual response cycle fuels desire. The orgasm is not where the sexual encounter peaks, it is just one part of the entire process and a person can feel satisfied in a sexual way at any point in the cycle. This means that the orgasm isn’t the focus, goal or absolute end of every sexual encounter.